Yahoo Offers In-Browser IM Client

Internet giant Yahoo has introduced a beta version of its Yahoo Messenger instant messaging application—the catch being that this version is designed to work within a standard Web browser window, rather than relying on a separate software application.

Yahoo Web Messenger is a Flash-based application which offers a subset of the features in the full-blown Yahoo Messenger. Users can initiate and receive instant messages, save and search past messages, add contact, and adjust their online status. However, they can’t change their stealth settings, avatar display, or block list; similarly, the Web version of Yahoo Messenger doesn’t support conferencing, voice chat, file transfer, photo sharing, or Web cams. To use any of those features, users will still need the full-blown Yahoo Messenger.

What Yahoo Messenger for the Web is designed to do is bring the basics of instant messaging to users who can’t otherwise get to the service. The Web-based client is expected to appeal to, say, customers in Internet cafes, travellers or other people who might be briefly using someone else’s computer, and other situations where it’s not practical (or possible) to install the full-blown Yahoo Messenger client. Of course, the Web version might also appeal to employees of companies which barr downloads or use of instant messaging software.

The idea to put instant messaging in a Web browser isn’t new: Google rolled Google Talk into its GMail service over a year ago, and Web-based services like Meebo were once the only way to bridge the gap between competing instant messaging services.

Right now, Yahoo is offering the beta version of the Web-based messenger client in the United States, Brazil, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, with additional expansion planned for later this year. The move into developing markets may be a boon for Yahoo. For instance, some reports indicate that nearly half the everyday Internet users in India get online via Internet cafes, and comScore recently reported Yahoo is the leading instant messaging application in India, Viet Nam, and the Philippines.

Yahoo Messenger for the Web is a free service, but users will quickly note that ads run alongside it. Yahoo hasn’t disclosed whether the advertising content is selected for "relevancy" on the basis of users chat content or histories.

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